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Updating your estate plan for the digital age

The world dramatically shifted after 1990, the year that computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. No one anticipated how the internet would change every aspect of our lives from how we work to how we shop.

And in 2020, it looks like the internet also shapes how we plan our estates. We have to evaluate our digital assets along with our traditional assets, such as homes, cars and physical property. But how do you incorporate a digital asset into an estate plan?

The classification of digital assets

Digital assets are pieces of valuable information that we store on our computers, smartphones or any digital device. The assets include emails, website logins, credit card rewards, social media profiles, online photos and even cryptocurrency.

For some digital assets, they actually hold significant sentimental value while others hold monetary value. You may want a specific person to inherit these assets. Luckily, there is a process to make sure those assets end up in the right hands.

The designation of digital assets

There are certain steps to prepare and assign digital assets within your estate:

  • Track all your digital assets online and the correlating login information.
  • Determine if you have ownership rights over the assets. There is flexibility among what you “own” on the internet in terms of assets. You will have to check with individual sites’ policies.
  • List the digital assets in a will along with who receives the account, the access the recipient is allowed and any login information.
  • Describe what you want to happen to the accounts after they are passed along

Due to the complexities behind access and ownership of digital assets, you will want to work with an estate planning attorney who can help determine the right steps for your specific assets. After you incorporate those assets, make sure the rest of your plan is up to date.

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